A former Head of Service, Stephen Oronsaye, was on Monday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja, charged with N1.9b money laundering.
The trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, however, released Oronsaye to go home on personal recognition but to return to court on July 21 when his bail application would be heard.
Oronsaye was docked with one Osarenkhoe Afe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He is facing a 24-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering amounting to N1.9 billion when he was Head of Service between 2009 and 2010.
Oronsaye pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them by EFCC.
Following their plea, EFCC counsel, Mr Yusuf Aliyu, urged the court to remand the accused in prison, pending the hearing on their bail application and trial.
Aliyu said Oronsaye, who had been on EFCC’s administrative bail since his arrest on Wednesday, should be remanded in prison because EFCC had no place to keep him due to congestion.
Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN), Oronsaye’s counsel, objected to Aliyu’s application and urged the judge to exercise his discretion to release his client on self-recognition in line with the Administrative Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
Justice Kolawole, in a short ruling, held that the accused be allowed to go home and return on the adjourned date of July 21 for hearing and ruling on the bail application.
Kolawole also ordered counsel to the accused to write an undertaking to produce the accused in court for the bail application and subsequent trial.
Oronsaye is accused of awarding a biometric data capture contract worth N63 million to Innovative Solutions and Projects Ltd, without due process.
In the Charge No: FHC/CR/297/15, others accused alongside Oronsaye are Osarenkhoe Afe, (who was docked with Oronsaye), Frederick Hamilton and Global Services Limited.
Most of the alleged offences committed were also said to have involved a former Deputy Director, Finance, in the office of the Head of Service, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina.
The commission said the accused conspired to disguise the original nature of proceeds from acts of illegality.
The EFCC argued that the contract served as a means by which three individuals and five companies got more than N700 million.
The EFCC further submitted that there were other companies, which had no contract to participate in the biometric data capture awarded to Innovative Solutions and Projects Ltd, but were paid by the accused.
These included Frederick Hamilton Global Services Ltd, which received about N119 million; Xangee Technologies, N153 million; Fatidek Ventures, N30 million, and Obanlado Enterprises, N96 million, among others.
These alleged offences contravened Section 14 (1) (b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2004 and Section1 (1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act, 2006.
The said offences are punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.